As promised, here is part two of our advice series with my 100K YAY award-winning boutique photographers!!
These photographers earned as much as $400,000 last year in their photography businesses, so you’ll want to hear what their favorite tips are for growing a profitable photography business!
Tim & Jill Gray
One of the things that we do every year, every month, and every quarter is plan exactly what we need to do to hit our numbers.
Who we’re going to interact with, how we’re going to spend our time, and how many sessions we need to do.
Networking, especially with our Chamber, has brought us headshots, family portraits, branding sessions, and led us to our Dream 100.
One of our Dream 100 clients took us to Dubai!!
And since then, she’s introduced us to a lot of other business owners that we get to do great personal branding sessions for as well.
That trip to Dubai really helped our social media presence too.
The social media aspect of it has really kept us in front of our clients.
And we have a great relationship with our clients because we serve them so hard.
We become friends with them.
By the time we have their consultation, the photo session, the sale, and install their artwork in their home, they’re friends!
I’ve been doing photography for about 21 years, and for 16 of those years, I have been an entrepreneur owning my own business in Sauk Center, Minnesota.
When I was asked to share a few things that I do to consistently hit $100K in my business, I made a list of some of the things that I don’t even consider saying no to.
A few of those things are community involvement, having a membership at my Chamber, and having a Rotary membership.
I’m very involved in both my local Chamber and my Rotary Club because I make such good connections!
I served on the board of the Chamber for about three years.
Volunteering to serve in my community really made a huge difference, because I not only was able to serve my community on a higher level, but I was also able to really make some great connections.
Something else that I do is shop locally.
I don’t order supplies online, I buy those locally.
Staying authentic to myself and my values is a big part of my business.
Staying authentic to who I am as a photographer, but also who I am as a family person and who I am in my faith.
Something that I did differently in 2022 was get really annoyed about my numbers.
And I say annoyed because it was annoying to myself, but I just monthly tracked my numbers.
It was more like weekly tracking my numbers because I wanted to know exactly where I was.
I wanted to know what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to be.
I didn’t want to leave everything for the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter is always a busy time of year for photographers, and I didn’t want everything to pile up at the end of the year.
So I got really crazy about my numbers this year and it paid off in a big way!!
Making a plan to reach those goals and following through with those plans is a non-negotiable thing for my business to hit six figures because it’s my only job.
A big part of my business and hitting six figures is being able to support my family in a way that I can be there for them by having the flexibility of owning my own business, and also I can be a financial supporter for our family.
I am going to share a handful of things that I think have really helped move the needle in my business and achieve that six-figure mark!
The first thing would be to move your body.
I think it’s important that you find something that you enjoy doing because then you’ll want to do it every day.
I know for me, it’s very easy to get stuck behind my computer as a photographer, and by moving, it helps me change my state.
So if I am stressed or feeling anxious, I’ll go for a walk, run, or do some yoga.
Mindset has been instrumental in helping me achieve the goals of my business, and I’ve particularly been working on my money mindset.
Oftentimes, we are brought up with limiting beliefs around money.
As a small business owner for a long time, I’ve had a lot of head trash and limiting beliefs over the course of my career.
Particularly around the value of my work, what I charge, as well as my worth.
Having awareness around it has been half the battle.
I think a vision board is so powerful because you’re focusing your brain on the things that you want to achieve.
I had never done a vision board until last year.
I’d always wanted to do it, but I just never made the time.
More than half the things on my vision board happened!!!
Another exercise that I’ve been practicing for the last couple of years that goes hand in hand with the vision board is I keep a journal by my bed.
I will write down five things that I’m grateful for, then I will write down 10 goals and dreams (as if they’ve already happened).
Make sure to feed your mind.
Read, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, etc.
There’s so much wonderful content and information out there, and most of it’s for free.
If someone I look up to recommends a book, I’m going to read it.
Find people who have what you want and learn from them.
My last little nugget for y’all would be to find a coach and a tribe who are crushing it in their business.
We are the sum of the five people we hang around most, and I believe working with Sarah Petty and the group she created made the biggest impact on my business.
The more that I invest in myself and my business, the easier it is for me to go and talk to other people about it.
This year, I had a $10k sale and I also had several $5k sales!!
The one big change I made in 2022 that helped me get to six figures, was fully committing to Boutique Breakthrough.
As I learned, I went through all of the lessons completely and didn’t skip anything (which is not like me, but I fully committed to that).
One of the habits that I implemented that helped me hit six figures was following through with every single client!
I make sure that they get everything that they ordered.
I also follow up with my high school senior clients to see if they want to do a family session as well or if there is anything else I can do for them.
Following up with people that haven’t placed orders yet instead of just hoping that they are going to get in touch with me is super important.
I think that really has been empowering for me.
Another habit is that I sweetly encourage my clients to finish their orders when they’re with me.
It helps to do it when they are with you so that they don’t have to come back in again.
This has given me a lot more clarity in how to direct and guide my clients as well.
One of the biggest changes that I made in my business to hit my goal of a six-figure income this past year was my mindset.
Before starting Sarah’s program (Boutique Breakthrough), I was insecure about my skills and lacked confidence in myself.
I always compared myself to other photographers in my area and I wasn’t happy anymore doing what I loved.
Then, one of my first clients after I transitioned to the boutique model became my first Julie!!
She ended up investing over $6,000.
I was speechless.
Right then, my mindset changed.
My confidence soared from that day on.
But I had to get uncomfortable to become comfortable in achieving the goals that I had set for myself.
Since then, I instilled several habits that I always practice with my clients to help me reach my six-figure goals.
One of those habits is being consistent in my brand and having a system in place for each client from the time of the session to the time that they actually leave my studio with all these gorgeous, beautiful artworks.
Going through the process and making sure I didn’t miss one step for each and every one of my clients was key.
This has been so helpful in making sure my clients are being served at my highest level.
Another habit that I had formed is knowing how to deal with rejection.
This was important for me because, let’s be honest, we all have budgets, and what I may invest in photography may be vastly different than what someone else may invest.
Before, I would cry and question my abilities and end up giving discounts.
Now, it just means that they may not be my right fit client and I move on with my day.
It’s okay to have a no!
I’m going to share with you the top three changes I made in my business that helped me earn a six-figure business while taking three months off to be with my family.
So number one, I would say narrow your portfolio.
I sat down and looked at my books from 2021, and I really categorized them.
The top three categories that brought in the most revenue for me were high school seniors, kids and family, and then tweens.
I really dialed down the numbers.
With my high school seniors, I served 13 seniors with a sales average of $7,667, I had 14 families with a sales average of $4,421, and last, in my tween market, I served six families with an average sale of $4,781.
All in all, that added up to 33 clients with a sales average of $5,765.
Numbers always tell the truth.
Then I thought about how I could serve those top three categories at the highest level.
The truth is that I was also serving many other categories.
But my branding and headshot categories were barely bringing in any revenue so I needed to pivot.
I decided to really focus on the top three categories.
The second thing that I did was look at my sales by product summary.
What this did was it told me my top three products that were selling off my price list.
These are products that basically get sold every time.
I adjusted the prices for my albums and my large canvases in two different sizes.
By making this minor adjustment, I was able to maintain a six-figure business and take even more vacation time.
The third thing I’m going to tell you is a very simple thing that will help you so much in your business, and that is to stay front-of-mind.
What I mean by that is to stay involved with your clients!
Be engaged, and really show them that you care about them.
I like to follow my clients on social media and pay attention to their lives.
When their kids earn an award at school, no matter what age, I comment on that post or I send them a Note of Joy and let them know.
This really helps me stay engaged.
Good record-taking and a healthy database allow us to plant seeds that will eventually bring a good harvest.
Wasn’t that incredible?
You’ve heard from photographers who are just like you, juggling the demands of life, a family, and the love of making photography their full-time gig!!
And now you can see what is happening for them right now in this economic climate.
I want this for you too.
I hope this short series has shown you what is possible as a boutique portrait photographer!